I’m excited to share this recipe today. I’ve taken this to many a potluck, and it’s always a hit! This superb Shepherd’s Pie features two of my favourite foods: sweet potatoes, and grass-fed beef.
I was actually never a huge fan of the classic Shepherd’s Pie growing up. Never cultivated that love of white mashed potatoes that so many people have. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, appeal to my massive sweet tooth – and lucky for me, they’re packed with good stuff, most notably beta-carotene. Also, sweet potatoes aren’t in the nightshade family of vegetables like regular potatoes are – this is important to note if you’re suffering from arthritis or any kind of inflammatory condition. Plus, they’re just pretty!
Before I jump to the recipe, let’s talk about grass-fed beef for a sec.
Why bother getting grass-fed, isn’t organic good enough?
Yes, organic beef is a great option, especially if that’s what your local grocery store carries and you want to make meatballs like, tonight. Organic is great! But grass-fed is better.
When you eat beef from a grass-fed cow, you know that the cow was raised completely naturally, on pasture, eating exactly what their digestive system is designed for. Cows are not designed to eat corn and other grains; their rumen is meant to digest grasses. Grain-fed cows get sick, and require antibiotics. As Michael Palin says, “You are what you eat eats”. Consequently, grass-fed beef (compared to corn-fed beef) is a richer source of omega-3, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and CLA (another beneficial fatty acid), not to mention protein, B vitamins, and even selenium and zinc.
Besides the positive health effects for you, when you buy 100% grass-fed beef, you’re supporting farmers that truly respect the biology of their livestock – you’re supporting sustainable agriculture.
Where can I find grass-fed beef?
Go to your local farmers’ markets and speak directly to the farmers. Ask about the kind of access their cows have to the outdoors. Ask if their cows are fed any grains or corn (many grass-fed cows are “grain-finished” in the last few months to fatten them up). You can also inquire at your local butcher shops about 100% grass-fed beef. Look for CSA-style meat shares. Explore eatwild.com and westonaprice.org.
So grass-fed beef is awesome. ‘Nuff said.
Without further ado, here’s one delicious way to use your grass-fed ground beef: Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie.
Here’s What You Need:
4 medium sized sweet potatoes, or 3 really large ones
¼ cup organic (or grass-fed!) butter
Optional: ¼ cup milk of some kind (or a little olive oil perhaps, but I’ve never tried this)
Sprinkling of turmeric
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Dollop of coconut oil or other cooking fat
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
2-3 cups chopped veggies of choice (I like using carrot, celery, mushrooms, leafy greens, whatever I have in the fridge!)
¼ cup coconut aminos
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkling of paprika (omit if avoiding nightshade family)
Optional: chopped green onions
Here’s What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Peel and chop sweet potatoes roughly. Prepare as you would normal mashed potatoes – boil or bake them, then mash up with butter, milk or oil if desired, and some salt and pepper. I like to add turmeric and cinnamon as well, for a subtly sweet and anti-inflammatory kick.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a pan to medium and add coconut oil or other cooking fat (I sometimes use pasture-raised pork lard). Add onion, garlic, and beef, cooking until beef is mostly browned and broken up. Add veggies, coconut aminos, and salt and pepper. Mix well, cover, and cook until veggies have softened to your liking and the beef is fully cooked.
4. Put beef and veggie mixture into a casserole dish of your choice. Top with the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle the top with paprika, if using. I sometimes add chopped green onions to the top as well, for fun.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. I usually bake it covered, then after 20 minutes or so I put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown and crisp the top just slightly.
P.S. When I say say ‘sweet potato’, I mean the orange coloured potatoes we tend to call ‘yams’. I have found this video beneficial in explaining the difference between sweet potatoes and yams.
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